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Why did this man decide to go work in a dump for a year?

Josh Reno stepped well out of his comfort zone when he decided to spend a year working in a landfill.

The assistant professor of anthropology at Binghamton University wanted a hands-on approach to understanding the relationship North Americans have with their garbage, so he signed up to be a paper picker at a mega-landfill on the outskirts of Detroit.

According to Science News, the two main lessons that Reno learned from the experience were, "a) People don't think twice about what happens to the garbage they throw out and b) the American dream of two cars, a house and perfect commodities is made possible by creating tons of waste."

Reno's investigation forms the focus of his new book, Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill.

In it he writes, "By sending so much things to dumps, by subtracting them out of our lives, that actually has an effect on us. We tend to think, 'How does all that waste affect other people? How does it affect the earth?'" said Reno. "But the counter-intuitive thing is that it also, in its absence, is shaping our way of looking at things."

RELATED: Here's why nobody wants to talk about plastic rubbish

“Your modern lifestyle is made possible by creating tons of waste”
- Josh Reno

"When we think of the disposal of a good, rather than its production, we are more often encouraged to imagine ourselves in a relationship with 'Nature,' in the abstract, and forget the many people and communities who take our waste away, and work and live with the consequences," says Reno. "This partly has to do with mega-landfills, like the one I studied, because they are designed to disappear into the landscape and be forgotten."

"By making the things we dispose of swiftly vanish, they distort our relationship to the things we keep (which appear to transcend process and time) and to one another."

Here at 1 Million Women, we're committed to reducing waste, rejecting disposables and transitioning to a plastic-free way of life.

While a zero-waste lifestyle may not be realistic for everyone, it is important for us to reassess the way we deal with rubbish, especially when we consider the fact that every piece of plastic that we've produced is still in existence, and may never fully break down in the environment.

We've collected some great resources to help you on your journey to reducing your waste production, including a few inspiring stories from around the world:

Melbourne's Erin Rhoads has lived two years plastic free! - Plastic-free living is totally possible, and Erin Rhoads (A.K.A The Rogue Ginger) has been doing it for two years. Read her story!

Watch Lauren Singer Fit Two Years Of Trash In A Mason Jar - Remember our blog on NYU student Lauren Singer and her no waste life? She taught us all that a no-waste life is very possible!

Rebecca Huntley - 'I tried living plastic-free for a week just to see if it was possible' - Going 'Plastic Free' has made me change ever so slightly and become more aware of the waste intrinsic in everyday life.

Images: Shutterstock

1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.


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